The ginger-shaped asteroid 4179 Toutatis: New observations from a successful flyby of chang'e-2

Jiangchuan Huang, Jianghui Ji, Peijian Ye, Xiaolei Wang, Jun Yan, Linzhi Meng, Su Wang, Chunlai Li, Yuan Li, Dong Qiao, Wei Zhao, Yuhui Zhao, Tingxin Zhang, Peng Liu, Yun Jiang, Wei Rao, Sheng Li, Changning Huang, Wing Huen Ip, Shoucun HuMenghua Zhu, Liangliang Yu, Yongliao Zou, Xianglong Tang, Jianyang Li, Haibin Zhao, Hao Huang, Xiaojun Jiang, Jinming Bai

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Abstract

On 13 December 2012, Chang'e-2 conducted a successful flyby of the near-Earth asteroid 4179 Toutatis at a closest distance of 770 ± 120 meters from the asteroid's surface. The highest-resolution image, with a resolution of better than 3 meters, reveals new discoveries on the asteroid, e.g., a giant basin at the big end, a sharply perpendicular silhouette near the neck region, and direct evidence of boulders and regolith, which suggests that Toutatis may bear a rubble-pile structure. Toutatis' maximum physical length and width are (4.75 × 1.95â.km) ±10%, respectively, and the direction of the +z axis is estimated to be (250 ± 5, 63 ± 5) with respect to the J2000 ecliptic coordinate system. The bifurcated configuration is indicative of a contact binary origin for Toutatis, which is composed of two lobes (head and body). Chang'e-2 observations have significantly improved our understanding of the characteristics, formation, and evolution of asteroids in general.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3411
JournalScientific Reports
Volume3
DOIs
StatePublished - 12 Dec 2013

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